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Reintegrating the Gods into Daily Life: Matching Religion With Worldview and Ending Those Lonely Disconnects Between Us and Them

The Creation of Adam (detail) (Michelangelo)
The Creation of Adam (detail) (Michelangelo)

When in the early sixteenth century Michelangelo painted one of his greatest masterpieces, The Creation of Adam, the general concept of a man touching the hand of god was seen as a much loftier goal than it was to the pagan Romans of not much more than a thousand years before he was born. As far back as in the city of Eridu in Ancient Mesopotamia, and eventually slowing to a halt starting in Southern Europe, history has recorded the ordinary and the supernatural simultaneously, on the same pages and in the same sort of language. To the historians of yesteryear, and more importantly, to the common person, there was very little separation, if any, between the menial tasks of daily life and the divine interference of the gods, for the gods were present in all things. The loss of that presence is the reason for much of the loneliness experienced by modern polytheists, and it is something I have finally found the words with which to provide the solution.

As Ralph Metzner has stated, the separation of ordinary life from contact with the divine is a “loss [that] resulted from the gradually increasing emphasis, started by the Greeks and continued with Christianity, on abstract conceptions of deity rather than on the direct, sensory perception of and communication with spirits that was the norm in polytheistic animism.” Today, even with the reemergence of ancient polytheistic religions like Hellenic Polytheism, Religio Romana, Kemetism, and Germanic and Norse Heathenry, the West has yet to recover its old comfort with dining at the same table as the gods, among other things, and the religious “reemergences” I just mentioned are, for the most part, vague approximations at best, hampered by a worldview that dulls the senses which reveal the divine to mankind.

If humankind had retained regular contact with the divine and not grown the mental barriers between us and them that it has, we might today find the presence of many gods in the discovery of a parking ticket on the window shield of a car, in the modern understanding of GMOs, or even, as ridiculous as it sounds, in a toilet cleaner bomb. These things are simply the modern descendants of what the old gods once held dominion over. Finding Týr in a parking ticket today is conceptually no different than a person from a distant age finding him at The Thing, an ancient Norse gathering that occurred regularly to discuss the business of laying down and enforcing the law of the land.

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Musings on Óðinn/Odin

Since I went back to adhering to Germanic Heathenry in 2017, I’ve maintained a distrust of Óðinn because of the many historical instances of his own worshipers calling him “treacherous” or “deceitful,” or otherwise untrustworthy. I’ve kept my distance out of fear until today, but now, I’m thinking that I may have been too quick to judge him. Upon reading these parts of the Havamal, it seems like Óðinn regrets his cruelty towards Gunnlöð:

Stanza 104:

From her golden throne, Gunnlod gave to me
A drink of the glorious mead;
But a poor reward I gave her in return
For her true heart and troubled spirit.

Stanza 108:

I doubt that I would have come home
From the realms of the Giants,
Had I not been helped by Gunnlod,
Whose arms had been around me.

Stanza 110:

Odin swore and oath on a ring;
Who can trust his troth now?
He took drink at Suttung’s table, and betrayed him:
He left Gunnlod in grief.

Before and after these passages, he expresses scorn for women’s deceit, but never for women who are faithful to their word.

So, this is my apology to Óðinn.

Wise god, I was wrong to judge you so quickly when I’ve never known you myself and the bulk of what I’ve heard about your was what others long before my time had to say, and I also recognize that their opinions may have been tainted by the bitterness of admitting defeat after fighting long and hard. I don’t think it’s likely that you’ve done a complete one-eighty since then, but out of respect for you as a god and as a person, I won’t allow other people’s words to color the lens through which I view you anymore.